Throughout this young season, the United States Military Academy has fielded a defense that's been victimized by their opponents.
Today, the Army Black Knights defense nearly carried the day.
West Point's defensive unit limited the vaunted Wake Forest Demon Deacons passing attack to just 175 yards and picked off both quarterbacks for a total of three interceptions.
They nearly had a fourth that would have won the Cadets their first game of the season. With the Deacons driving to kick the inevitable game-winning field goal, quarterback Kendall Hinton threw to the outside to make the attempt shorter. Hinton replaced starting QB John Wolford early in the game after Wolford was injured on a run.
Former wide receiver and now safety Xavier Moss jumped the route and got his hands on the ball, only to watch it fall to the ground. If Moss held on, he would have been gone for a touchdown.
Two interceptions by freshman cornerback Brandon Jackson helped put Army back in the game after falling behind 14-7 in the second half.
Without the turnovers created by Jackson and linebacker Jeremy Timpf, Army would never have gotten on the board as the triple option sputtered for the second straight week.
Army football fans have to be concerned about the team's ground game. Perennially one of the top rushing attacks in the country, for the second straight week Army was held to under 190 rushing yards.
For the first time all season, sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was held under 100 yards while the fullbacks carried 25 times but only mustered 78 yards.
Head coach Jeff Monken made some crucial of mistakes too. Down 14-7, a long passing play by Bradshaw put the team in scoring position. But the Cadets could not convert on a third and short.
Monken sent Daniel Grochowski to kick the field goal to make it 14-10, but the kicker missed the attempt with just under 10 minutes left in the final frame.
Army had previously failed to convert on a fourth and short in the first quarter, but in this instance you have to go for it. The Black Knights offense cannot settle for field goal, they need touchdowns. This was a bad call by Monken.
Army's offense could not give their defense any help today, but it should encourage Army fans that the defense made a lot of plays. It looked in the first two games that the defense would struggle all season long. This game shows that may not be the case.
However, it appears the offense is the root of the team's problems as it has produced two straight games of stagnation. Bradshaw's struggles in this contest appear to be a symptom of the fullbacks and slotbacks not making producing much on their carries.
Army will look capture its first win of the season in Eastern Michigan next Saturday at 6 p.m. before they face Penn State and Duke in the coming weeks.
If the defense plays like it did today, the Black Knights should earn their first victory on the road since 2010.